Questionable social media accounts abound, and how some manipulate some of these accounts to their benefit has been explained in earlier blog entries. This blog entry shares some of the most common questionable accounts found on social media these days.
Parody accounts imitate the style of the account being parodied using deliberate exaggeration for comic effect. Some parody accounts disregard copyright law and use profile photographs from the account being parodied. If successful, the style of writing can dupe readers into believing they are following the real person’s account.
Like parody accounts, imitation accounts are created to mislead readers into believing they are following the real person’s account. Unlike parody accounts, however, these accounts are generally created with the intent of smearing the real person’s reputation.
Unlike either parody or imitation accounts, stalker accounts are designed to do an end run on the real person’s account, thereby allowing the stalker to monitor comments (whether by the person being stalked or followers/friends of that person) being made on the real person’s account.
Similar to stalker accounts, doxing accounts maliciously identify (by way of stalking an account) what is most likely to provoke a negative response from the real person. Once this has been accomplished, the negative reaction is published (oftentimes going viral) with the intent of smearing the real person’s reputation.
Somewhat similar to stalker accounts and doxing accounts, intelligence accounts are meant to “gather intelligence” from the real person’s account. This account then shares what’s been gathered, providing their contacts with insider knowledge they wouldn’t otherwise have.
Sleeper accounts, while technically not fake accounts, are usually accounts held in reserve by one of more persons, for the express purpose of fueling cybermobs into attacking specific targeted accounts.
Spam bots make a habit of tweeting and retweeting certain status updates. They are oftentimes used to get hashtags to trend when the person behind the hashtag doesn’t have enough followers to create a legitimate hashtag trend. Used in conjunction with some of the other accounts already mentioned, those behind bot accounts can rarely be identified and held responsible for their actions.
An exception to these negative social media accounts are fiction accounts where it’s clear that the account doesn’t belong to a real person (ie. the profile states the account belongs to a fictional character) or where there is sufficient easily found information to confirm that the account belongs to a fictional character.
Social media can be far more dangerous than anticipated when unscrupulous and vicious people are of the mindset that anything is fair game … including cyberbullying and cybermobbing those they dislike or with whom they disagree. Steer clear of these people as much as possible, however, be aware that even if you give such people a wide berth, some may suffer from mental health issues making them that much more dangerous.
When someone’s online behavior crosses the line, don’t convince yourself that they will grow tired of their game and disappear back into the woodworks. Contact your local police department and file a complaint. Let cyberbullies deal first-hand with the police instead.
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